From our computers to our phones, it’s difficult to escape screens in today’s society. They’re ubiquitous and in newer vehicles, a built-in feature. In-car entertainment or in-vehicle infotainment systems are large touch screens usually positioned on a vehicle’s dashboard or on the back of seats. They’re features in most new cars and are used for functions such as navigating to your destination, changing the satellite radio station, making a phone call, and even queueing up a game of solitaire or playing a movie.
And they’re everywhere. An estimated one in three adults in the U.S. uses these systems. In 2019, an estimated 28.5 million cars were sold worldwide with infotainment systems. That’s a huge market, and it’s a growing one. The infotainment system market was valued at $25 billion in 2020. It’s growing so quickly that it’s on track to reach $41 billion by 2026.
Car manufacturers market these systems as features for comfort, convenience, and safety. But are they truly safe? The research says no. Even though many of the systems are voice activated and hands free, they still require the drivers’ mental (cognitive) attention.
A study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers using infotainment systems take their eyes off the road for long stretches of time when completing tasks such as programming navigation. Drivers who take their eyes off of the road for a mere two seconds have twice the risk for a crash, and those who use infotainment systems were visually and mentally preoccupied for an average of 40 seconds.
The study also found that of the 30 systems studied, 23 of them placed a very high demand on drivers. In other words, the systems required a lot of driver attention to navigate through menus and make their selections. Because of the length of time and relative demanding nature of using these systems, engaging with them qualifies as distracted driving. Distracted driving is exceedingly dangerous and caused 3,142 deaths in 2019 alone.
In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a set of voluntary guidelines that auto manufacturers could adopt to make these systems safer for drivers. These recommendations include blocking drivers’ access to infotainment systems’ functions when vehicles are not in park. However, car companies have not adopted these guidelines. Until that time, it’s incumbent upon drivers to use the systems responsibly.
If you’re using an infotainment system, it’s wise to complete your tasks before you shift your vehicle out of park. Map to your destination before leaving your parking spot. Pick your radio station and stick with it while driving. Turn off smartphone text and email notifications so you aren’t tempted to reply. If your dashboard controls need more attention, pull over before operating them.
All drivers are navigating roads filled with infotainment users, so while you’re driving remember you may be doing so amid distracted drivers. Adopt a defensive driving posture. Scan the roads around you every few seconds to spot any problems early and respond. Watch for distracted drivers. If you see one, safely get out of their way — even if that means pulling over and being a few minutes late to your destination.
How Sanchez and Piñon Can Help
If you’ve been part of a distracted driving accident caused by infotainment systems, whether yours or someone else’s, contact Sanchez and Piñon, Rio Rancho’s auto accident and injury attorneys, for a free consultation. While other attorneys talk, we listen and provide a personal level of representation. We can discuss how to fight for the compensation you deserve.